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In pictures: British seaside history
Skinny-dipping king

Previously of little interest to anyone but fishermen, Britain's coastline gained popularity with the fashion for a medicinal dip.

References to bathing in the sea - as opposed to the spas already popular with the gentry - were made as early as 1732.

King George III set an example followed by many upper-class Britons when, in 1789, he went skinny-dipping at Weymouth.

Bathing machines, used to convey swimmers to the water in privacy, became common and are pictured here in Victorian times.

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